You’ve heard guinea pigs are social animals and are happiest with a playmate. Bursting with excitement, you quickly make your way home with this adorable new companion for your little guinea.
After exploring his new home and finally encountering your pet, rather than play they begin to fight.
Maybe you’ve had two guinea pigs for some time now and they suddenly began fighting.
What should you do?
Why Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting?
Ginny pigs aren’t naturally violent and won’t always fight, but there are usually specific reasons when they do. More common concerns include:
- Closure too small
- Establish dominance
- Physical discomfort/pain/illness
- Gender, mating & bad pairing
Is my closure too small?
Think of a natural setting. Guinea pigs would have plenty of space to roam, only confined by the fear of predators and the need for resources.
This isn’t the case with your at-home enclosure. Believe it or not, most pet-store cages owners purchase are too small for their guineas.
It’s recommended their cage be at least 10 square feet (1 meter) in diameter. You might even consider vertical structures with walkways or multiple levels for your pigs, and this could increase depending on how many little ones there are.
Incorporate sections, like ‘rooms’, or ‘hideouts’. Guinea pigs like to feel safe from predators, and a covered or shaded compartment will offer a sense of security to make them comfortable.
Offer your little pets spaces of their own they can use as little getaways. These can be as simple as something made at home from a cardboard box. A cereal box will do fine, for example.
What you don’t want is a small, rectangular area about the size of a small fish tank.
Is my guinea trying to establish dominance?
These animals tend to form either a dominant or submissive persona. Guinea pig fighting can arise when two dominant animals are paired together in the same enclosure.
If you don’t pair a dominant piglet with a more submissive one, the two could resort to fighting over that dominance. This is why caution is recommended if ever pairing two closely aged males.
If you pair an older guinea with a younger one, the older one will usually claim natural dominance and there wouldn’t be much conflict.
There are exceptions to avoid, however, like rooming a father with younger females or a male sibling with young females.
Unless you want them to mate, avoid pairing a male and female pig. The younger females are especially important since their bodies won’t tolerate pregnancy well.
Observe your piglets closely for those first few days, searching for any signs of aggressive behavior.
Is my guinea pig feeling ok?
If your piglet isn’t feeling well, is injured, or otherwise suffering, aggression might not be far behind. The antisocial behavior is very natural and can be seen in many species (humans included).
What about pairing?
Always consider your pairing, and if it is right for either pet. The little ones are social, but it isn’t as simple as combining any two.
Be sure not to pair very young (a month or so) pigs, or new mothers who’ve just recently given birth with any males. They will probably mate, which could be drastic for their delicate little bodies.
Males around the same age might compete for dominance (or females, but less often). Though these displays usually don’t end physically, try to couple a younger (not too young) with an older one.
Female Guinea Pigs Fighting All of a Sudden
Males tend to show more aggression or feel the need to establish dominance, more than females. So why in the world are your females fighting all of a sudden?
Remember to make sure your cavy isn’t injured. One of your females might just be feeling very antisocial because she simply isn’t feeling at her best.
Again, your cage might just not be large enough for the two (or more). Have you built enough ‘escapes’ or little covered enclosures for the little ones?
Females might also fight for dominance, just like males. Though they are less likely to let this route end in brutality, it shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility.
Guinea Pig Brothers Fighting
There are a few possible reasons behind your male guinea pigs fighting. Unfortunately, this behavior is a common problem among males.
Your two brother guinea pigs might be housed with a female. A sibling or not, she is likely going to mate and this drive could lead to territorial disputes among males.
One male is probably going to feel the need to assert dominance over the other male or males if in a group, especially if recently changing environments (i.e. just brought home).
What can you do?
The two males might begin to circle, each waiting for the other to concede. If one of the two gives in to the other, the order is likely established and you don’t need to worry.
If one tries to mount the other, or they begin biting, you’ll have to separate the two. You don’t necessarily need to switch enclosures; a divider will do.
Watch these two closely to see if anything escalates. If resorting to biting, one piglet can drastically injure the other.
If the two have been coexisting for a good amount of time, one may be injured or in some pain. Contact a veterinarian if you can’t determine the problem.
Guinea Pigs Chasing Each Other and Squeaking
Guinea pigs chasing each other usually isn’t an aggressive behavior by itself, and normally needs to continue to its end naturally. Remember, these piglets are social animals and enjoy playing.
However, it can turn violent quickly. Remember to stay vigilant, paying close attention to these behaviors.
High pitched whistling sounds mean your furry little pals are exited. Do you remember those childhood games of tag on the playground? It’s like that for them.
Pay close attention to your guinea pig sounds over time. Have you been able to learn what they all mean?
How Do You Stop Guinea Pigs from Fighting?
You’ll absolutely have to figure out why the two are fighting in the first place. You have to pinpoint the cause before any kind of treatment can be fully effective.
You could always simply separate them right away, but these little guineas are social creatures and that is the point behind housing them together.
Sometimes separating the two for a night will reset the situation and cure your ills. There might be a deeper underlying cause, however.
When to Separate Guinea Pigs
You don’t want one pig to injure the other, and you absolutely don’t want an injured pig to die from his wounds. When fronting escalates to fighting, even biting, it’s time to separate.
If trying to establish dominance, your two piglets might put on a show for one another. If neither backs down and one decides to try and mount the other, or otherwise starts biting, those teeth can cause serious harm.
You’ll need to identify the cause of this guinea pig fighting. Like any other behavior, you can’t truly treat it until you identify the cause.
Sometimes you’ll only need to keep them separated for a night or so. They might try putting on a show again but might concede if everything has blown over.
If they continue to try and fight, consider consulting a veterinarian. Unfortunately, these two might not be able to live together in the future.
How Long Does Guinea Pig Dominance Last?
In most cases, the dominant behavior will subside once one guinea has set himself above the other. The general answer is there is no answer, and guinea pig dominance can last as anywhere from two days to months.
The length of time really either depends on the submissive pig is ready to concede or a victor is decided. The latter could result in a very injured piglet, which isn’t at all what you want.
Males tend to express more dominant behavior for longer durations and might need to be separated.
Pairing an older adult with a younger male (remember, males and females will likely mate) is a good strategy. You could also pair two females.
Though your adorable little piglets might be the absolute cutest little things in the world, guinea pig fighting certainly isn’t at all.
In fact, your piggy squabbles can turn into their own blood sport. Those teeth could wind up doing a lot of damage, and one party can certainly die from injuries.
An intentional guinea pig bite can be painful to a human. Imagine how it feels to an animal approximately 1% of our size.
Thankfully, they don’t normally get to that point.
If you have any concerns about keeping two guinea pigs or whatnot, feel free to ask in the comments.